Strategy

Essential website features every site should have

You must read these essential website features when you consider creating a perfect website. These website characteristics will make your business more engaging.

Let’s talk about the website. Say, you are a prominent business owner or a small entrepreneur. You can do a lot by ‘going online.’  You might say we have FaceBook, Twitter for spreading our business. And, no doubt that’s a good option. But nowadays, social media become hazy. So, you need a website with all essential website features.

Most of the people are on the internet now. If we look at the data, more than 4 billion people are using the internet until 2019. And the number is increasing. That is why a website is a potent tool for any business. Besides, it can promote your brand and products the way you want to promote.

“High-Quality” is the Key Features of a Good Website

You need a high-quality website for better brand promotion. And, you need this mainly for two reasons. First, for better user experience for your customers. Because without that, your customer may not show interest in your product. Second, for google. You must need to rank high in google search. Without that, your customer may not even find you.

To fulfill these two criteria, you need some website essential features. So, let’s go one by one through these website features and functions. And try to understand how we can make a high-quality website.

For your better understanding, we categorize everything into four significant points. These are;

  1. Technical Website Characteristics
    • Perfectly chosen domain
    • Fast hosting
    • Security
    • Captcha or anti-spam feature
    • Accessible to All
    • Browser compatibility
    • Optimize Speed and Performance
    • Responsiveness – Mobile First
    • Browser Caching to increase speed
    • SEO Optimized
    • Use of the Google Search Console 
    • Google Analytics integration
    • Legible Font Paring
    • Readable and Meaningful URLs
    • SSL Certificate (HTTPS)
  2. Must have elements in the website
    • A simple Logo
    • Brand color
    • Clear Main menu / Navigation bar
    • Well-decorated Hero section
    • Service section 
    • Relatable Meta Data and Tags
    • Sitemap
    • Search bar
    • Proper use of the images
    • Well formatted content
    • A perfect “About us” description
    • CTAs
    • Testimonials
    • Contact information and Form
    • Showcasing the Activities
    • Social media integration
    • An FAQ section
    • Useful Links in the footer
    • Privacy policy page
    • Cookie policy page
    • Terms and Condition page
  3. Additional Elements a Website can have
    • Blog page
    • Sidebar
    • Maps
    • Share links
    • Breadcumbs
    • Newsletter Subscription
  4. Things should NOT include in Essential Website Features
    • Don’t use flash elements
    • Automatic music in the background
    • Do not upload a video on the webserver
    • Dead-end pages

First thing first, before we go into the details. Let’s have a look at the common structure of a website. We will discuss all these throughout the article.

Essential Website Features - Website design ideas
General idea of a Home Page of a Website.

01. Technical Website Characteristics

You have to ensure the best user experience for your visitor. At the same time, Google has to know your website is up to the mark. So, the first thing you have to ensure the technicalities in website essential features. Both the user and Google are susceptible to these. And Google is even very transparent about this.

Perfectly chosen domain

When it comes to the domain name, most of us don’t even give it a second thought. Back in the days, it was simple. Just your brand name & “.com” was enough. But now it becomes more challenging. So, here two tips for domain names.

First, it will be engaging if it is short. In this way, your domain name will be more memorable. If we see, all the top brands are doing the same—for instance, Facebook, Twitter, and Skype.

Second, you need to protect your brand. There are lots of other TLDs except “.com.” You need to ensure that no one else can open a website using your domain name with other TLDs. That’s how you can protect the image and the traffic only for your brand.

Fast hosting

A slow hosting website can be harmful to your business. So, fast hosting is a must-have website feature. A slow website may cause low search engine ranking, high bounce rate, small page view number, and lower conversion rate. Ultimately, a slow website means lower profits.

“Slow website equals lower profits.”

And, high-speed hosting may confirm a better google ranking. So, choosing a fast hosting is essential website features. This Google Tool can tell you how much you are losing by a slow website.

Security

Website security should be the must-have website features. Because websites hacking is a big concern nowadays. Websites may get hacked for credit card information, personal information, and malvertising. So, you have to ensure that your customer doesn’t have to face any of these.

Captcha or anti-spam feature

Captcha is another vital website characteristics. A website may have forms or e-commerce sections. And, there are lots of computer programs or bots that try to fill those forms with spam. So, the captcha system prevents spam notifications and also protects your e-commerce site. For this, Google’s reCAPTCHA is very popular nowadays.

Accessible to All

A website should be accessible to the blind, disabled, and elderly. Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act mentioned this in accessibility guidelines. If the site is not usable for this group, it could be a violation of the rules.

“Agencies shall ensure that all functionality of ICT is accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities … …”

— U.S. Access Board

Browser compatibility

The best user experience is a mandatory point in good website features. For that, you have to ensure all kinds of browsers compatibility of your website. Even though we know the most popular browser is Chrome & Firefox. But you never know for sure. Your customer can use any browser from any device. If they face any issues, that may impact on your business.

You can check your compatibility by using your website in multiple browsers. Also, you can use the developers’ tool integrated with browsers. Or, you can use the LambdaTest WordPress plug-in if your site is WordPress based.

Optimize Speed and Performance

As mentioned before,  speed is on the list of essential website features. So, if your data is not optimized, your website may loads slowly even though you are using fast hosting.

The first thing you can do is upload smaller images. Large-sized images caused longer loading times. Second, you can check your website loading time with this Google Developer Tool. This tool will help you to find the issues. By solving these, you can improve performance.

In advance, you can link your server to the Google Cloud CDN. Content Delivery Network or CDN reduces the travel time of the content from one server to another because the system distributes the content in multiple servers in multiple locations in advance.

Responsiveness – Mobile First

If we see the live statistics, a large number of people use the internet by mobile. So, if the website doesn’t correctly show on the mobile phone, you may lose a big part of visitors. That’s why a website must be compatible with any mobile phone device. You may add a Hamburger menu instead of the desktop menu for better usability.

Browser Caching to increase speed

Browser caching helps your website to load faster in your visitor’s end. The Caching system saves lots of elements like images or contents on your computer, during the first visit. So, during the next visit, the browser does not download those elements. Instead, it pulls the data from local storage and loads the website faster.

There are lots of ways you can ‘caching’ your website. You can use plug-ins for your WordPress website.  For example, W3 Total Cache, Perfmatters, WP Rocket can be helpful to this.

SEO Optimized

Content marketing is an effective way. By solving people’s problems, you can turn them into paying customers. But, more than 95% of people stay on the first page of Google search. And, on that, only 10% of people click on the results. So, you need to optimize your content for search engines to rank on the first page.

To do that, you have to provide SEO friendly content. There are lots of plug-in WordPress, by which you can ensure SEO friendly contents.  YOAST and SEMrush is the most popular WordPress plug-in for search engine optimization.

Use of the Google Search Console

Google Search Console is one of the finest SEO tools for your website. You can monitor the impression and click numbers of your content. Alongside this, you can see google ranking position by this tool.

Google Analytics integration

This tool helps you track and analyze your website traffic. By the way, website traffic means website visitors. This tool helps to understand your visitors.

It lets you see many things. For instance,

  • How many visitors you have
  • From where they came from (such as Google, Facebook)
  • How long they stayed on your website, and so on.

It also shows the visitor’s gender, age, city, and other important dates.

It helps you modify the user experience for better engagement. And, more engagement means more exposure to your brand & product. And eventually, more profit.

Legible Font Pairing

Usually, we do not give much time to choose a font. But, a wrong font can decrease your visitor number. Because, if the font is not comfortable to read. Your visitor may not stay longer on your website. At the same, if your font does not deliver the right feel of your brand. Your visitor may lose interest in revisiting.

So, you have to give some thoughts to choose a font for your website, just to maintain the qualities of a good website. The correct font will give your visitor the proper feel of your website and improve readability. Most popular font libraries are Google Fonts and Adobe Fonts. But, there are some other libraries also for custom fonts.

Readable and Meaningful URLs

The URLs of your website pages must be readable and meaningful. So, you should be careful about this website’s essential features.

Let’s understand this with an example. Let’s think your site has a ‘contact’ page. If the URL name of this page is [ www.yourwebsite.com/1234 ], that would be confusing. A simple solution is, just use the page name in the URL. So the best option is [ www.yourwebsite.com/contact ].

In this way, Google also can categorize and rank your pages easily. Google uses the URL structure guidelines for this.

SSL Certificate (HTTPS)

Secure Sockets Layer certificate or SSL is vital for your visitor’s security. SSL ensures an encrypted link between the server and browsers. Eventually, it protects your visitors from hackers and secures your personal and credit card information.

02. Must-Have Elements in the Website

A simple Logo

A logo represents the brand. But a simple logo is the qualities of a good website because a complex logo may not be visible in a small size. Such as on the browser tab. Also, it looks messy in a bigger size. So, in simple words, the simple logo is more useful to the brand value on the website.

Brand color

In common website features, brand color is an important one. You have to choose the primary color of your website as per your brand color. Then you can set up a color palette by complementary colors. You can use Adobe Color or Paletton to set up additional colors for your website.

Precise Main menu / Navigation bar

The navigation menu is the only reliable element by which your visitor can find pages easily. So, it should be well categorized with easy terms because the navigation menu not only simplifies navigation for the visitor but also for bots.

Google search engine bot has a specific crawling mechanism to rank the website. These bots categorize the webpage as per your navigation menu. And, sometimes they show the menu’s items in the search.

The well-decorated Hero section

Hero Section is the cover page of any website. And people usually judge a website by the cover. So, in this section, you have to be 100% clear about what you do. Because that’s how you can show the qualities of your brand to the visitor, and, your visitor may stay longer on your site.

“People don’t want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They want a quarter-inch hole!”

— Professor Theodore Levitt (Harvard Business School)

So, people don’t really care about how creative or good you are most of the time. They will lose interest if you are not to the point about visitor’s interest in the hero section. It can contain a quick button or form to engage the visitor directly.

Service section

Another thing that is on the list of website features and functions is the service section. This dedicated section is to the company service description. If you are a service providing company, this section will let your visitor know what type of services you provide.

Qualities of a good website - Website Home page elements
Home Page – Brief Contact info, Logo, Navigation Menu goes into the header part of a website. Service section goes into the Website Body part.

Relatable Metadata and Tags

Metadata is the essential thing for higher ranking. Because not only google uses it in the ranking mechanism. But, also attract visitors. So, it should be relatable, short, and must contain the keywords.

Metadata has three parts. The title itself is metadata. Then the meta description and tags. You have to be more focused on the title and meta description. Tags also help to rank the site.

Key website features - Meta description of a website
This is the meta description of a website. Usually, it shows during the search.

Sitemap

Most of the points on this list are both for your visitors and Google. So, if you have a small website, your visitor may find pages quality and also google. But, if you have a content-heavy site, you must need a sitemap.

Your visitor may need to find a specific page on your website. If it is a large website, it becomes difficult for your visitors to find it. So, the sitemap gives them a birds-eye view over your website. At the same time, it becomes easier for Google search console to rank it appropriately.

Search bar

The search bar is another vital one in common website features for your visitors. It is not mandatory for smaller websites. But for a sizeable content-heavy site, it is compulsory. Generally, an e-commerce site, a large news portal, or a blog page needs this element. It allows the user to find a particular page more interactively.

Proper use of the images

The image is in the list of essential website features. But, using the wrong image can lower your brand reputation, notably in the hero section. So, always use photos that represent your brand and company in the best way. Do not use pixelated or blurry images. Never use pictures that have a watermark on it or pictures that are not free to use.

You can use stock photos for your website. For that, you have options, like Pexels, Adobe Stock, Shutterstock, Freepik, and Unsplash. But, real images have a better impact on visitors than the stock photos. On the other hand, real but unprofessional photos can limit the visitors’ numbers. So, you should be careful.

Must-have website features - Website Inner Page structure
Inner Page – Search bar can be placed anywhere on a website depends on the website. Forms have several uses, such as it can be used as register form in an e-commerce site.

Well formatted content

Blocks of words are boring. And, every visitor to your website thinks the same. That is why you need to format the content interestingly. Large paragraphs or contents without heading are not interesting. Which eventually loses the visitor’s number.

Using the heading is essential. It can give the reader the basic idea of the content. You can use H1, H2, H3, and so on for better understanding. At the same time, you have to use short paragraphs. In this way, you can maintain the visitor number by this good website features.

Characteristics of a Website - Website blog Post structure
Inner Page – A blog Post usually a dedicated page per blog. It has a content meta which includes published date, author name, and category name. The sidebar can contain some other posts, social share links, or Ads.

A perfect “About us” description

This page is the second most visited page after your home page. Most of the time, people make a simple mistake in this section. Everyone tries to explain the history and share personal information about the company. You need to understand that your visitor does not care about that.

Always try to explain how your company can be helpful to them. Let them know your company’s ability to solve their problem. In this way, they will stick to your website and look further.

Common website features - Website about page structure
Inner Page – About Us section must have a dedicated page and have a short brief on the home page. Inner pages should Breadcrumbs.

CTAs

Call to Action or CTA is the ultimate door to be a customer form a visitor. So, you have to be extra careful about this. This element should be short and sweet. Never get fancy in this section. And, always use words like NOW, TODAY, FREE, and so on. Finally, use a specific color to separate this section loudly and clearly.

Testimonials

You, as an owner of the company, obviously will say good things about yourself, which is essential. But your visitors also want to know what your previous or current customers think about you. So, always showcase your former client’s opinion on your home page. Thus, the testimonial is a common website feature and element that you must have.

Contact information and form

Contact information is another must-have website features and functions. And it should be self-explanatory. It should be easy to understand and must contain all the essential elements. Such as, a contact page may include location address, email address, website address, phone number, and a contact form.

A contact form becomes much more essential website features than ever. By filling up short info, your clients or partners can easily communicate with you. And, of course, directly from the website.

Website characteristics - Website Footer structure
The Footer section stays at the bottom of a web page. Footers may include contact info, quick links, newsletter subscription box, and map. Call to action element usually positioned above the footer. Testimonials can be positioned at any suitable place as per your need.

Showcasing the Activities

Your future clients have to know about your expertise. And there are lots of ways you can showcase your work. One popular method is to create a portfolio. It contains your best projects with pictures, videos, briefs, and clients’ feedback. Another way is to make a gallery of photos that showcase your activities.

Social media integration

Social media is an enormous part of our life. If we look at the data, almost 3 billion people use social media for communication. For better traffic, you need to explore those sites also because your visitor may not visit your website often.

So, you have to put your social media link on your website. In this way, you can update them about your company’s activity via social media. And, of course, encourage them to revisit your site.

An FAQ section

Your visitor may visit your website for some quick solutions. The best way to deliver quick solutions is FAQ. FAQ contains some preset common questions with short & straightforward answers.

Well marked up FAQ pages may have a fruitful result on search. And, also in the Action on the Google Assistant, which can help your site reach the right visitors.

Useful Links in the footer

Footer is the bottom part of a website. And, It contains the gist of the website. So, you have to be careful in this section. It may include the newsletter subscription, social links, and quick links.

Quick links are always helpful for a great website. So, footers contain lots of important quick links. Ultimately, this bottom section helps users to find relevant information faster.

Privacy policy page

Privacy policy page contained the privacy disclosures. It helps users to understand what data you collect, why you collect it, and what you do with it. So, this should be detailed, accurate, and easy to understand for visitors.

Visitors have an opportunity to review the policies when they browse. And it should be in a convenient place on the website. So that visitors can find it easily. Google always encourages us to follow all the guidelines of the privacy policy page.

Cookie policy page

A cookie is a small text sent to your browser by the visited website. It helps the website to remember information, like preferred language and other settings.

“… … you need to make sure users will see clear information about cookies. In any case, doing so will increase levels of user awareness and control, and also assist in gaining valid consent.”

— Information Commissioner’s Office (U.K.)

But it is illegal to collect this information without the visitor’s consent. So, you have to take the permission of your visitor for cookies.

Terms and Condition page

A terms and conditions page contains a set of rights and obligations of the visitors. It is a valid contract between the website and visitors. But, terms and conditions are not legal requirements like a privacy policy. But it’s in the essential website features. Usually, the terms and conditions page includes liabilities, copyright protection, and so forth.

03. Additional Elements a Website Can Have

Blog page

Not all kinds of businesses need this. For example, an e-commerce site might not need a blog page. But an SEO friendly blog page can be a robust marketing tool.

Sidebar

Usually, a sidebar is a column that appears either to the left or the right of the original content. A sidebar can be sticky or scrollable. Sticky means, it does not scroll with the main content.

It is a convenient place for your visitor to access some other content or products. It may also contain your contact details and social media links. And, most often it includes ads. If your site is monetized, the sidebar is the perfect place for ads. In this way, your visitor doesn’t get distracted during content reading.

Maps

In your contact page, you must mention the business address, which shows more authenticity. And visitors trust the company quickly. At the same time, you might need your website visitor to visit your office. So, this key website features will help the visitor to find your location using the map view. You can use Google Map API on your website.

Share links

Your content needs visitors. And you can get visitors from your current visitors. For this, you need to integrate the social media share buttons. By this, your visitor can share your content in their social account and engage more traffic for you.

Breadcrumbs

This element has a vital position in the list of website features and functions. Breadcrumb navigation is a short text path, usually found at the top of a web page. It indicates where the user is on the site. Breadcrumb is an essential element for your website. Because It helps google to rank high, lower bounce rates, and increase user experience.

Newsletter Subscription

Not all kinds of businesses need this. But for some, it is one of the key website features. If you are into email marketing, then this element can be beneficial. By this, you can collect the client’s email address. You can email them about your service and offers. But your clients have the full right to unsubscribe the newsletters.

04 – Things to Avoid in Essential Website Features

Don’t use flash elements

Flash used to be used to embed videos or animations on the website from 1996 to 2010. But it required flash players to play it. And, that’s not all for losing popularity. It had security issues for a long time. Also, it consumes more power from a system. Nowadays, it has a much better & secure alternative. Developers use HTML5 to embed media now.

Automatic music in the background

You have to give the best possible user experience for your visitors. An autoplay background music can destroy that because no one likes to hear something forcefully. And you may lose visitors because of that.

Do not upload a video on the webserver

You should never upload videos on your hosting site because it will increase higher bandwidth utilization, which will reduce server performance. Eventually, to cope up with that, you need to spend more money on hosting.

Dead-end pages

Even though you are very careful about the URLs of pages, you may still have some broken links. Also, if you don’t, some visitors may go on a “404 Page Not Found” page. It’s unavoidable. There are lots of smart and funny Website design ideas for 404 pages.

But still, we have to be careful about these pages and fix them.

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Conclusion

Nowadays, you have to maintain the best usability of your business website. And, there are lots of website design ideas to do so. There are protocols, tricks & tips, and methods to increase and maintain your traffic.

These essential website features are what makes a good website for Google to rank high. And, of course, make it more user friendly for your visitors. And, more visitors equals more business. 

Let us know your opinion in the comment and suggest us if we should include some other points.